Vivekananda’s concept of Hinduism

C L Kaloo

Swami Vivekananda, delivered lectures at the world’s Parliament of Religions, Chicago on 11th September, 1893- say one hundred and twenty years back and declared to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Holy Bhagavad Gita,” Whosoever comes to ME through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end, lead to ME.” However, on 19th September 1893, Swami ji spoke on Hinduism at this Parliament of Religions and stated that three religions now stand in the world which have come down to us from time pre historic:- Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, and Judaism. They have all received tremendous shocks and all of them prove by their survival their internal strength.
In Hinduism, Hindus have received their religion through revelation- The Vedas. They hold that the Vedas are without beginning, and without end. He in fact advocated reasons to convince the learned audience as to how the book can be without beginning or end. But he said that by the Vedas, no books are meant. The Hindus meant that the accumulated treasuries of spiritual laws were discovered by different persons in different times. Just as the law of gravitation existed before its discovery and would exist if all humanity forgot it so is it with the laws that govern the spiritual world. He explained that the moral, ethical and spiritual relations between soul and soul and between individual spirits and father of all spirits were there before their discovery, and would continue to remain even if we forget them.
The ancient Rishis (saints of the highest order) were the discoverers of these laws as per Hinduism. The Vedas teach us that creation is without beginning or end. Modern science is said to have proved that the sum total of cosmic energy is always the same. Then, if there was a time when nothing existed, where was all the manifested energy? In this context, some philosophers say that it was in a potential form in God. In that case, God is sometimes potential and sometimes kinetic which would make HIM mutable. Everything mutable is a compound and everything compound must undergo that change which is called destruction. Thus, it is absurd to say that God would die- therefore; there never was a time when there was no creation. In this connection, Swami ji used a simile in his lecture on Hinduism- that creation and creator are two lines without beginning and end, running parallel to each other. God is the ever-active providence, by whose power systems after systems are being evolved out of chaos, made to run for a time, and again destroyed. It is only in Hinduism that the idea of a body in spirit has been discovered. The Vedas declare that,” I am a spirit living in a body and I am not the body as the body falls or perishes but I shall not die.” The Hindu believes that every soul is a circle whose circumference is no-where but whose centre is located in the body. Nor is the soul bound by the conditions of matter. In its very essence, it is free, unbounded, wholly, pure and perfect. But somehow or the other, it finds itself tied-down to matter, and thinks of itself as matter. It is a fact that everybody’s consciousness that one thinks of oneself as the body. Swami ji gave clear conception to this August assembly that human soul is eternal and immortal, perfect and infinite; and physical death means only a change of centre from one body to another. He made the people aware that the present is determined by our past actions; and the future by the present. The soul goes on evolving up or reverting back for birth to birth and death to death. He raised a question to the astonishment of the audience,” Is man a tiny boat in a tempest, raised one moment on the foamy crest of a billow and dashed-down into a yawing chasm the next, rolling on to and fro at the mercy of good and bad actions- a powerless, helpless wreck in an ever-raging, ever-rushing, un-compromising current of cause and effect, a little moth placed under the wheel of causation which rolls on crushing everything in its way and waits not for the widow’s tears or the orphan’s cry. The heart sinks at the idea, yet this is the law of Nature.” Then he encouraged the audience and declared,” Ye are the children of god and sharers of immortal bliss, wholly and perfect beings; ye divinities on earth- sinners! It is a sin to call a man so; it is a standing libel on human nature. comeup, O lions, and shake of the delusion that you are sheep; you are souls immortal, spirits free blest and eternal. Ye are not matter, ye are not bodies; matter is your servant, not you the servant of matter.” Thus, it is the Vedas in Hinduism; declare that HE is everywhere- the pure and formless one. The Almighty and the all merciful. Through love, HE is to be worshipped as the one beloved, dearer than everything in this life.”
The Hinduism refers to the songs of the Vedas; and the doctrine of love is declared in the Vedas. However, this doctrine was fully developed and taught by the Lord Krishna whom the Hindus believe to have been God incarnate on earth. The Lord taught the humanity to live in this world like a lotus leaf, which grows in water but is never moistened by water; so a man ought to live in this world- his heart to God and his hands to work. It is indeed good to love God for hope of reward as a human being in this world or the next world; but is better to love God for love’s sake.
In conclusion, Swami Vivekananda made the audience at the World’s Parliament of Religions aware of the conceptions of Hinduism that the Vedas teach us that soul is divine but held in the bondage of matter. We shall reach the perfection when this bond will burst, through the mercy of God. This mercy comes out on the sincere and pure, as the purity is the condition of His mercy. God reveals HIMSELF to the pure-heart. The pure and the stainless see God even in this life; and then and then only all the crookedness of the heart is made straight and all doubt ceases. Thus, he is no more the freak of a terrible law of causation. This is the very centre and the very vital conception of Hinduism.